Knowing how to flirt and actually show someone you’re interested in them romantically or sexually can be a minefield. Sure, some people are natural-born flirters and just get the dating thing right. But the more socially awkward among us can struggle. Apart from saying, ‘I fancy you, let’s go out’ (which, tbh is a MOVE), how do you flirt subtly and show someone you’re into them? Once you know they probably do, our dating experts, body language experts and psychologists share their best flirting advice and tips.
1 Look at them
Experts used to suggest we look – and then look away – three times to get someone’s attention. But, on the flip side, maintaining ~too much~ eye contact is the most common mistake people make when flirting.
So what should you do? When we meet someone new our eyes make a zig-zag motion – we look from eye to eye and then the nose. With friends, we look below eye level to include the nose and mouth. The subtle flirt widens that triangle to include parts of the body.
A word of caution – glance at their mouth now and then but not for long. Stare too intensely and you might make someone feel uncomfortable.
2 Be suggestive
Whether it’s a mildly suggestive phrase or an ‘accidental’ touch, a little teasing can go a long way. In fact, when it comes to flirting, less is more.
‘Overt turn-on attempts sometimes just spook people— they may sense heavy pressure to perform or feel out of control of the situation,’ says psychology professor Robert Francoeur, PhD. ‘Subtle things — ones that are just enough to get their imagination going — are often what arouse people the most.’
Flirt just enough to make them wonder whether you’re interested or not. The uncertainty will get them thinking – and leave them wanting to find out more.
3 Test the space before you touch
A brazen flirt will touch someone’s arm or knee when they talk. A subtle flirt tests someone’s personal space first.
‘The bubble of air 18 inches around someone’s body is their intimate space: a no-go zone when you first meet someone,’ says flirtation consultant Judy Dutton and author of How the Science of Sex Can Make You a Better Lover.
‘To see if someone’s up for you breaking through this barrier, find an excuse to step briefly into this zone, say, by allowing someone behind you to pass, or to grab an appetiser off a wandering tray – then step back out again. If this person is drawn to you, they will respond by stepping in closer after you’ve backed off,’ she says.
4 Use your smile
You begin by using eye contact to register interest in someone, and then you steer their eyes towards your mouth to ensure they get the signal of approval via the smile. You can do this by allowing your smile to spread down your face from your eyes to your mouth, which should draw their eyes with it.
Body language expert Judi James says, ‘Your smile allows you to show off lovely, healthy-looking teeth which sends a subliminal sexual signal of healthy breeding, plus the subtle baring of the teeth forms a mild fear response in animal terms which in human terms signals approachability and rapport.
‘Your mouth-smile should be symmetric rather than lop-sided to show simple emotions of happiness and pleasure. If your smile turns into a laugh you get to tilt your chin up slightly too, baring the length of your neck which is a powerful flirt signal.’
5 Make ever-so-slight contact
You might think they want you to reach out and grab them – but the sexiest touches are often those electric ones we’re not expecting.
As clinical psychologist Dennis Sugrue, PhD, explains, ‘Unnecessary touches are a turn-on because they can signal a willingness to venture beyond the safe boundaries we usually maintain between ourselves and others.’
You don’t need to accidentally barge into them. Small, barely-there touches that only the two of you notice are best. Let your foot ever-so slightly touch theirs or lightly brush past them as you squeeze through a gap.
A touch that seems out of the ordinary creates the biggest physical reaction as subliminally it says, ‘I can’t resist touching you right here and now’.
6 Ask them a question
Most people love imparting wisdom or giving advice, so don’t be afraid to ask them a question. The more obvious flirt uses the technique to draw attention to themselves.
For example, you say you’re thinking of getting a haircut and ask them whether they think long or short hair will suit you best. The subtle flirt asks a question that, while seeming causal, is more directly related to their potential attraction to you.
7 Compliment them
Compliment someone too much and they’re more likely to squirm in their seat than ask you out. While the obvious flirt compliments someone on their outfit or fragrance, the subtle flirt bides their time and waits until the moment is right.
‘Giving them a coy compliment lets them know that you’re interested in them sexually without suggesting that you might want something or be playing them,’ says Deb Levine, a sex educator and relationship counsellor.
How do you give a ‘coy’ compliment? People watch for a few minutes then ask if they noticed how that person (who has conveniently just left) was checking them out.
8 Get them to take you out
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) uses hypnotic language to influence others, whether to buy a second-hand car or ask us out on a date.
One of the most common techniques is to use ’embedded commands’. Essentially, the idea is to give someone a direct command without them noticing by embedding or ‘softening’ it within a sentence. That way, their subconscious mind picks up on the command, even though their conscious mind isn’t aware of it.
Commands should be clear and easy to understand, such as ‘take me out for a coffee.’ When you deliver the command drop your voice down at the end to ensure it comes across as a command and not a question. So, you might say ‘I asked my boss to take me out for coffee but she’s too busy.’
This post originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com
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